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Friday, March 31, 2023

‘Novak Djokovic vs. Rafael Nadal? A handball match at 22-22,’ says Ivanisevic

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As was predicted before the Australian Open, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are tied at 22 Majors. Two great rivals have battled for years, matching Roger Federer and leaving him behind in recent years. At 36 and 35, Novak and Rafa are still eager to keep the young guns outside the spotlight and collect more Majors trophies in the next couple of years.

Novak’s coach Goran Ivanisevic described Djokovic’s and Nadal’s battle as a handball match tied at 22-22. Novak did what he had to in Melbourne, and it’s Rafa’s turn to extend his Roland Garros dominance in June if he wants to pass the Serb again.

Rafa won the Australian Open and Roland Garros a year ago, moving two Major crowns in front of Novak. The Serb reduced the deficit at Wimbledon and stood as the favorite in Melbourne. Seeking his tenth Australian Open crown, Djokovic overcame seven opponents and a hamstring injury to emerge at the top and extend his incredible run at the season’s opening Major.

Novak has now won four consecutive titles at Melbourne Park, experiencing the last defeat to Hyeon Chung in 2018! Djokovic struggled a bit in the opening three rounds last week, feeling pain in his left leg but enduring the efforts to move into the last 16.

He was a different player from that round, returning at his best and defeating four opponents in straight sets.

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal continue their incredible battle at Majors.

Djokovic beat Alex de Minaur, Andrey Rublev and Tommy Paul to advance into the final, his tenth at the Australian Open.

Keeping a perfect score, Novak bested Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 7-6, 7-6 in two hours and 56 minutes to celebrate the title. Djokovic claimed the opener with an early break and kept the pressure on the other side after losing serve once.

Stefanos followed Novak’s pace in sets two and three. He wasted a set point at 5-4 in the second and an early lead in the third before dropping both tie breaks to hand the victory to Novak. “Novak Djokovic can play at this level for two or three more years.

He is taking care of his body and approaches food and everything at an unbelievably detailed level. The younger players are here, but Djokovic and Nadal are still battling. The Australian Open was Novak’s court, and we are heading to Rafa’s next.

Their fight is like a handball match at 22-22. For me, Rafa is always the Roland Garros favorite. Some guys, including Novak and Carlos Alcaraz, can stop him, but we must remember that he has won the event 14 times. You can not win some local tournament that many times, not to mention a Major.

Novak and Rafa have pushed each other, and there are the upcoming stars. Stefanos Tsitsipas will win a Major in the future; he is an amazing player,” Goran Ivanisevic said.

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